Learning About Artificial Rupture of the Membranes

What is artificial rupture of the membranes?

When you are pregnant, your membranes may break or rupture. This means that a hole or tear forms in the fluid-filled bag that surrounds and protects your baby. It usually happens when you are in labour or close to labour. When it happens, women often say their "water broke." The chemicals in the amniotic fluid may help start or strengthen labour.

Sometimes your membranes may be ruptured by your doctor or midwife to start or speed up labour. This is called artificial rupture of the membranes.

Why is it done?

Artificial rupture of the membranes is done to induce labour.

It's done after your cervix has started to dilate, or open, and the baby's head is down firmly in your pelvis. This helps prevent the umbilical cord from slipping down around or below the baby's head.

How is it done?

Your doctor or midwife puts a sterile plastic device into your vagina. The device may look like a long crochet hook. Or it may be a smaller hook attached to the finger of a sterile glove.

The hook is used to pull gently on the amniotic sac until the sac breaks. This usually doesn't cause pain.

A large gush of fluid usually follows the rupture of the sac. The uterus keeps making the fluid until the baby's birth. So you may continue to feel leaking, especially right after a hard contraction.

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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